Gold Coast has either laid the foundations of some overdue AFL success or it’s yet another false dawn for the struggling expansion club.
No-one doubts they made sound choices at last week’s national draft but the real question is whether they can keep those players long-term.
As expected, Gold Coast chose South Australian talents Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine with the second and third picks and then went for Victorian key position prospect Ben King at No.6.
Jez McLennan at No. 23 was their third SA choice and academy graduate Caleb Graham (No. 71) rounded out their selections.
It’s two years since the Suns last had three top-10 draft choices.
Already one of them, Jack Scrimshaw, has joined Hawthorn. All three previous Gold Coast captains — Gary Ablett, Tom Lynch and Steven May — have also left.
But Gold Coast list manager Craig Cameron says the Suns are now on the right track with developing their young talent.
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“We’ve made lots of off-field changes in the post season,” he said.
“Our personal excellence and player excellence division will probably be the most-resourced in the AFL, as of next year.
“We have a good group of young players coming through who are starting to take ownership of the club, where the team heads.”
Minutes after he joined Gold Coast on Thursday night, Lukosius said his pre- draft interview featured a lot of questions about loyalty.
“Guys with good talent, good character, good values and resilience — it’s really important,” Cameron said.
“But we’re no different to any club. That’s important for every football club.”
There’s an added risk in picking King, given his twin brother Max has joined St Kilda.
Just as there was plenty of social media cynicism about Adelaide “lending” Lukosius and Rankine to Gold Coast for two years, so there were mutterings the Saints would have the two twins soon enough.
Absolutely, we had to work through that,” Cameron said of separating the Kings.
“But they’re also individuals — Ben’s about to embark on an exciting venture. It’s the next chapter of his life.
“Our thought was that he’s an outstanding talent and we couldn’t pass him up.”
Cameron added there was never serious temptation to live-trade the Suns’ top picks with the two SA clubs, who were lower in the top-10 and would have loved access to Lukosius and Rankine.
“They certainly spoke to us but it didn’t get to the point where they were throwing ludicrous offers at us,” he said.